CLEVELAND- Following widespread reports of people unable to vote throughout Ohio, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio called for immediate attention to those disenfranchised because of non-functioning machines, uninformed poll workers, disorganization in the voting precincts or by being turned away from the
“No person should be turned away without voting. If the boards of election are having difficulty with machines or organizing themselves, the answer is not to deny people the vote but to keep precincts open and ensure that all people who are registered and want to vote are given an opportunity,” said Christine Link, Executive Director with the ACLU of Ohio.
The ACLU of Ohio has been extremely active in advocating for voting reform. Following the 2004 general election, the ACLU of Ohio partnered with the League of Women Voters Cleveland Education Fund to release a report on the common problems voters experience and solutions. Both organizations called on the state to increase training for poll workers, enact same-day voter registration and improve the provisional balloting process.
Link added, “Despite widespread support for meaningful change to the election system, the state has refused to make these important changes to improve the voting process and protect the voting rights of all Americans.”
Today’s primary election marks the first time that all areas of the state will use either electronic or optical scan voting technologies. In the weeks leading up to the election, reports from Akron and other areas of the state indicated that boards of election were having difficulties using the optical scan equipment and were unsure if they were going to work properly during election day.
Reports from Cleveland and Columbus indicated that several early morning voters were turned away because machines were not working or poll workers were unsure of how to operate them. Other reports out of Clermont County near Cincinnati said that ballots were distributed that had missing information and new ballots had to be reordered and were obtained by mid-morning.
“While it is unreasonable to expect that any election day would happen without some problems, the fact that many precincts around the state are simply turning people away is unacceptable,” added Link. “Many of these people are certain to not be able to return to the precincts before polls close, effectively disenfranchising them.”